Man heats home with fairy lights: why?

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Fairy lights

Darrel Piper, a 40-year-old from Dumfries, apparently heats his home by hanging fairy lights for the winter, and claims that it means he doesn't have to use his central heating. He has told the papers that it's a cheaper way of staying warm in the winter.

But can this be true?


Piper, who is unable to work on health grounds, told the Daily Mail that he hangs the lights on 1 September, and takes them down in January.

They are a fairly striking feature - filling his home with thousands of festive lights. He told the Daily Express that his family tells them that they know when he's in when they get to the bottom of his street, because of the enormous light the decorations emit.

Heat

However, he also told the Daily Mail that he uses them as an alternative way to heat his home. He told the newspaper the cost was the equivalent of running a 3kw fire, and he left the doors open to let the heat circulate.

It sounds like a great, festive way to heat your home, but the science isn't on his side. The electricity used to power the lights is being put to two uses: heat and light. The most effective way to use fuel to create heat its use as much of it as possible to create heat, and a small amount (if any) to create light. The fact that he creates enough light to be seen from down the road would indicate that it's not a very efficient way to heat his home.

Dangerous

More to the point, these lights are hanging against all sorts of materials in his home - from the Christmas tree to tinsel and his wallpaper. Not all these are designed to be directly next to a source of heat. When you consider that he gets a large number of his lights second-hand, so he cannot be sure that they are in the best condition, and he leaves them on for extended periods, it raises concerns as to whether he could be creating a fire hazard

Even those people who just use a traditional number of lights, and only have them up for the festive period, are at risk of having a light-related accident. Each year there are 350 people admitted to hospital because of incidents involving Christmas lights - ranging from electric shocks to burns. So having so many lights on for so long is increasing his risks significantly.

It may well be a fun way of warming his home, but it's probably not the most efficient or the wisest.